Taoiseach pays tribute to Irish peace-keeping troops in Golan Heights

The 131 Irish troops form the force reserve company which monitors a ceasfire line between Israel and Syria

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has paid tribute to the "important role" Irish troops in the Golan Heights play in carrying out peacekeeping duties.

There are 131 members of the Irish Defence Forces taking part in the mission, in which they monitor a ceasefire line between Israel and Lebanon.

The task has become more challenging in recent years in light of the Syrian civil war - and Mr Kenny has praised their peacekeeping efforts which he views as the centre of Ireland's foreign policy.

He also noted that total of 47 personnel had lost their lives while on peacekeeping duties and said that this week they celebrated 60 years of service to the UN.

The current company has been stationed in the region since September this year and is the fifth Irish contingent deployed with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force since 2013.

The group also provides armed protection for UNDOF personnel and support observation posts on the line of separation - which runs over 75km long and varies in width between 10km and 200 metres.

Mr Kenny, accompanied by Defence Minister Simon Coveney and Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe, highlighted the sacrifices made by the Defence Force personnel and their families, many of whom will spend Christmas abroad.